The Commons sat on a Saturday last week for the first time in 37 years, as yet another Brexit precipice approached.
Boris Johnson had made some changes to Theresa May’s deal with the EU, but in fact he had made it worse.
He has to solve the problem of the Northern Irish border, by taking that border and putting it in the Irish Sea, between Northern Ireland and Great Britain. So breaking up the United Kingdom.
Bizarrely, Foreign Secretary Dominic Raab said that this was “a cracking deal” for Northern Ireland because it kept them in the Customs Union and Single Market. Which does rather ask the question, if that’s a cracking deal for Northern Ireland, why can’t the rest of the UK have it?
Boris Johnson had previously promised MPs from the Democratic Unionist Party that he would not cut Northern Ireland adrift. No wonder they are so furious that he has now done so.
But there are other aspects that make the Johnson deal so bad.
For example, it removes any legal responsibility to maintain regulatory standards. Now that is bad enough when we are talking about your rights at work, or protections for consumers or the environment.
But industry also tell me they now fear it could mean lower standards in manufacturing. Automotive, aerospace and chemicals – big employing sectors in Cheshire and North Wales – all rely on European standards for their manufacturing processes. Every part has to be certified.
We could possibly do our own certification. But take aerospace at Broughton: if the Civil Aviation Authority was to take over from the European Aviation Safety Agency, they would have to start from scratch, and they estimate it would take ten years to get enough capability, by which time there would be no British aerospace sector left to speak of.
That’s why I reject talk of “getting Brexit done.” Because Brexit does not end the day we formally leave the EU, it only begins, and the chaos begins.
Perhaps the worst part of this is the double-dealing: the Prime Minister has been trying to woo Labour MPs to support him by promising enhanced workers’ rights, while telling right wing Tory MPs that his deal means we will have a no-deal crash out – with no workers’ rights – at the end of the transition period in January 2021.
The PM tried to force through his 100-page bill in just two days. Fortunately the Commons stopped him.
I will not be bounced into supporting a bad deal by the prospect of the catastrophe of no-deal Brexit. Not by the dishonesty of promises to “get Brexit done.” I would never support a deal that makes Chester people worse off.